For a great many ARAH fans, there is something extremely captivating about the Crimson Guard. Perhaps it’s the vibrant hue of their uniforms—a sharp contrast to the navy blue of the standard trooper. Maybe it’s the fact that their name is the “elite trooper”. It might even be that these soldiers were equipped with an AK-47 with a wicked-looking bayonet. Regardless of the source of their enduring popularity, it seems only logical that the Crimson Guardsmen make an appearance in the 25 th Anniversary line. (If Hasbro’s track record holds true this will be the first of many such appearances over the course of the next two years; the “blue shirt” mold has already seen more a panoply of releases since its debut in the Cobra battle pack.) So, nearly twenty three years after its initial appearance on store shelves, the “Seigie” is back—and some would say better than ever.
If the Hasbro design team is due one accolade for their work on the anniversary line it is for their ability of faithfully replicate classic character designs. The Crimson Guardsman has been near-perfectly rendered in the construction style of the 25 th Anniversary figures with even the smallest of details present in this new figure. The original shoulder boards, gold braid, uniform “salad” of medals, silver braided cuffs and silver out seam on the pants are all present in this new figure. There have been some changes to design, however, to offer additional functionality over the classic figure. The ARAH CG featured a molded pistol on the left thigh; the 25A Elite Trooper instead has a stylized holster for his included large caliber revolver. The classic CG featured a painted patch on the front of his left arm whereas the anniversary edition wears the patch on the outside of the same arm. These are small changes, however, and the body of the figure is one of the most perfect updates of a classic design that I’ve seen yet in this line. Hasbro went to the original design elements and brought them all forward two decades.
No design can truly survive an update 100% intact—if it did, then would be no reason for the update. In the case of the Crimson Guardsman, it is the helmet of the figure that has received a bit of an overhaul, with mixed results. The basic elements of the original helm are still present—the black “muzzle”, the eye slit, and the red “over helm”. (I know that I’m utterly butchering the real terms for all of this.) However, the helm has been altered to have a more angular presentation with sharp angles seen in the design over the figure’s forehead and near the jaw line. The black “muzzle” has also been extended a bit—protruding much further forward from the figure’s face than the original design. As a result, the new CG’s convey more of a simian appearance than the original ARAH designs did. In other words, the helmet ends up resembling a militant chimpanzee a bit more than the classic CG helmet that I recall from my youth. Now, this isn’t to say that the design is bad; I feel it is important to point out any major stylistic differences from the classic design. (As I’m writing this review far later that I would have liked, especially having lost the original in the computer crash I have to point out the comic pack version doesn’t seem to have nearly as pronounced of a muzzle.) In fact, it is the fact that helmet is almost a bit too narrow that makes this muzzle effect so pronounced. Personally, I don’t find it so distracting as to be put off by it, but rather it’s something that amuses me every time I pick up on of the CG’s sitting in my 25A collection.
One more item of note is the inclusion of the large revolver in the CG’s kit. The figure comes equipped with a recreation of the original AK-47 as well as the classic back pack however a revolver has now been added into the mix. Many fans questioned this inclusion—feeling that it wasn’t in keeping with the spirit of the original. Personally, I have no issues with it whatsoever. In can see this as more of a ceremonial pistol hearkening back to some tradition known only to the Cobra Commander and the members of his elite troopers. In some ways, the large revolver is more menacing than an automatic pistol would have been giving these troopers a bit of a “Dirty Harry” persona. Either way it’s an inclusion that works well enough for me.
I’m surprised by how often I stumble across the remnants of a case of 2008 wave 1 only to find that the Crimson Guardsmen are the sole figures left on the pegs. For whatever reason, fans don’t seem to be buying these as quickly as they did the Cobra Troopers back when they first appeared in single-carded form. Perhaps many fans see the Crimson Guardsmen more as an honor guard rather than a frontline combat unit. Perhaps it’s because a great many Joe fans were already “troop building” the blue shirt troopers and now find their budget a bit strained. Regardless, the CG is a fantastic update of a classic figure and one that I can see fans picking up multiples of. While I myself don’t understand the need to army build these figures by the dozens, I certainly see no reason why a fan of this line or of GIJoe in general would pass up the opportunity to add a CG to their collection.